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High schoolers see themselves in accounting after attending ACAP program

Written on May 1, 2020

ACAP-Ohio1806By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

A group stood in front of potential investors and made a persuasive case for why their business was worth additional time and money. But these were not seasoned professionals giving this presentation; they were high school students.

The case study presentation was one of many educational and interactive experiences at OSCPA’s ACAP-Ohio program this month. The program, which takes place for one week each summer, allows a select group of high schoolers to explore careers in accounting and business. They spend their time on The Ohio State University campus and at various businesses around Columbus.

The students worked on their case study the entire week before presenting it to a group of “investors,” portrayed this year by Kevin VerHoef, CPA, assurance senior at GBQ, Holli Gordon, CPA, accountant at JP Morgan Chase and Candice Hayes-McInnis, CPA, OSCPA manager of corporate learning.

There were six groups total, presenting on behalf of Chipotle, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Dunkin Brands, Buffalo Wild Wings and Yum Brands. The students covered many topics, including the history of the company; any new developments; an income statement, balance sheet and market competitors; and why the investors should choose their business. After the presentation, the judges asked each group questions about their organizations, such as why they chose certain locations to build new stores, how they would gain back public trust after a PR crisis, why there was a significant income drop on quarter, and more.

ACAP-Ohio is designed specifically for high school students in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Participant Artees Watson, a high school junior from Columbus, said she appreciated being around underrepresented students with like-minded interests.

“Coming here I didn’t know what to expect or what people would think,” she said. “But it’s good to have friends that have a common goal. But coming here it’s just incredible. I feel at home here and for that I’m grateful.”

Watson will graduate high school a year early, and said accounting has always been a part of her life; her mother used to do taxes and now works in the Auditor of State’s office. She said the ACAP experience has taught her the importance of networking and to look at situations holistically.

“You need to look in between the lines and analyze the words and numbers,” she said. “It’s like a puzzle you have to put together – not only in accounting, but in life and at your job.”

In addition to the case study presentations, the students had a busy week that included tours of Columbus businesses and informational sessions on topics such as financial literacy, navigating college and introductory accounting courses. The week ended with a banquet to celebrate the students and what they had learned, and twelve of them received $500 college scholarships and Watson received a $1000 scholarship.

Anthony Patrick, a high school senior from Cleveland and one of the winners of the $500 scholarship, said like Watson he appreciated the chance to attend ACAP and described his experience as “wonderful and amazing.” He said he’s always had a strong interest in business – even starting his own car washing business as a child – and said he will consider accounting as a career after his weeklong experience.

“They say accounting is the language of business,” he said. “And I really see myself in accounting now – especially after doing the case study, doing the numbers and meeting people who have had accounting impact their lives.”